Buying a Car Out of State: What You Need to Know | Gabi

by Jessie Jordan,  Nov 21 2019
Updated at Feb 17, 2022|4 min read

Whether you’re hunting for a great deal or have your eye on a very specific vehicle, you may find yourself shopping out-of-state for your next car. But while buying a car out of state can be incredibly beneficial, there are a few things you need to keep in mind along the way.

The Good News

The next time you’re car shopping, you’ll likely start your search close to home. As you go, though, there’s a chance that your search area will broaden, possibly even including other states. If you’re really bold, you might look high and low across the entire country in search of the exact deal you want.

A few decades ago, buying a car out of state might have been too difficult for the average buyer. Thanks to modern technology, though, you can literally shop anywhere in the U.S. from your couch. And there are many reasons why this is a fantastic idea, too.

Your Dream Vehicle Might Be Located Somewhere Else

The vehicle you want might be a classic car or a special edition. Or perhaps you’re just looking for a precise color combination with low miles. Either way, you might find that the inventory in your area is limited and you need to look elsewhere.

By expanding your search to other states, you make it easier to find exactly what you want and avoid settling. Your perfect car might not be down the road… but it might very well be a state or two away.

You Can Buy a Car from Anywhere

The great news? It doesn’t matter where you find your next car. You can buy from your home state or any other. 

Yes, there may be a few hurdles along the way, but they’re manageable and (likely) well-worth it.

You Might Get a Better Deal in Another State

Ah, supply and demand. This key concept applies to almost every good available, including cars.

You may find that it’s easier and cheaper to get certain vehicles from areas where they are common, like buying a truck in Texas or an electric vehicle in California. If they’re less common where you live, you could be not only limiting your available inventory but also the price tag.

Potential Downsides to Buying a Car Out of State

Remember those out-of-state hurdles I mentioned? There are a few that are bound to come up when buying a car from out of state.

You’ll Likely Pay Transfer Fees

Many dealerships, like CarMax, are more than willing to transfer a vehicle to you. This saves you the long road trip (or flight), but don’t expect the convenience to be free.

Depending on the dealership(s) and where the vehicle is located, a transfer fee could cost you hundreds of dollars. 

Different States Have Different Vehicle Demands

Each state has its own rules and regulations involving vehicles, with some being much more strict than others. If you’re buying a car out of state — and particularly if you’re buying a used car — you’ll need to keep your own state’s demands in mind.

For example, if you live in California you will need a vehicle that is “California certified.” These regulations may prevent you from successfully bringing in a car that is located elsewhere.

Keep Regional Weather in Mind

You probably already know how your local climate affects vehicles — but do you know how your out-of-state purchase has been impacted?

It’s important to remember regional conditions when buying from certain areas, such as cities located by the ocean or in states where snow (and therefore, treated roads) are commonplace. The salt in these areas can cause certain types of damage, much of which you wouldn’t think to look for if buying a car locally.

Things to Keep in Mind

If buying an out-of-state car sounds like a great option, there are a few things to note first.

Know What You’re Buying 

Whether you’re purchasing a vehicle two blocks away or 2,000 miles away, you need to know exactly what you’re buying first. This means seeing the car in person, if at all possible, or having a trusted mechanic check it out on your behalf.

Additionally, you may want to buy from a dealership offering a buyer’s remorse or other return policy. Some states also have “lemon laws” in case you discover an undisclosed issue.

Regulations Vary When Getting it Home

If you are buying a car out of state and driving it home, you may need to plan for things like temporary auto insurance and vehicle registration. Without these, you might find yourself in serious trouble (or at big risk behind the wheel).

It doesn’t matter what sort of vehicle you are buying: we all want to find the car that meets our needs at a great price we can afford. For some of us, this may mean shopping around locally as well as across state lines. 
Buying a car out of state can mean a bigger inventory and better deals to choose from. There are potential hurdles to watch out for, but the rewards can far outweigh them. Plus, you have the potential to save a ton of money along the way. And when it comes to finding the best deal on car insurance for your new purchase, you know Gabi has your back. Happy shopping!

Related Articles:

Are Online Insurance Quotes Accurate?

Are Year-End Savings a Myth When Buying a Car?

Buying a Car vs Leasing: What You Need to Know

Editorial content on is reviewed by a licensed insurance agent. It is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal or financial advice.
Written by
Jessie Jordan
Jessie is a Marketing Specialist at Gabi. As a licensed insurance agent, she has been helping Gabi customers buy and understand auto, home, renters, landlord, and umbrella insurance in a digestible way since she joined the Gabi team in 2020. Before joining Gabi she was a globally recognized Senior Account Executive for UPS- trusted with advising top brands on how to grow and streamline their business.
Reviewed by
Robbie Boddy
Robbie is the Vice President, Head of Sales & Customer Experience at Gabi. As a licensed insurance agent, he has more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry, joining Gabi after working with Liberty Mutual as the Assistant Vice President and Site Leader, Direct Sales and Innovation. Robbie is a member of the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters society and has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Grand Canyon University.
Read related posts
See how much you can save on your insurance today.